Editorial: Negative Attitude Towards Prisoners Hurts Rehabilitation Efforts

By the Editorial Board of The Daily Campus

Recently, Eric Bolling of “The Five,” a Fox News program, was under well-deserved attack by the illustrious Stephen Colbert for the former’s comments regarding the suicide of Ariel Castro, convicted for 937 criminal charges among which included rape, kidnapping, and aggravated murder. While this article isn’t quite a defense of Castro, it is an attack on Bolling’s statements which posited that taxpayers saved $780,000 by his suicide. Bolling’s argument here is insensitive, even when one considers the magnitude of Castro’s crimes, and is indicative of the negative attitude towards criminals and their opportunity for reform. America wholly believes once a criminal always a criminal, and this social stigma prevents them from re-entering society successfully.  Image courtesy

With this in mind, it’s clear why recidivism, or the term to describe former felons re-entering prisons or re-arrested for similar previously committed crimes, is so high in this country and why rehabilitation programs struggle to take effect. When one in thirty-two Americans is on probation, parole or in prison and America has that largest population of criminals (you know, that popular statistic, 5 percent of the global population, 25 percent of its prisoners), one would think that the public attitude towards criminals would be more supportive. Instead, America has collectively decided to abandon these people with the idea that they are a lost cause and deserve the barest of dregs we can throw at them, leaving them to struggle both in and out of the prison system.

Read More »

Habeas Hints: 2012 Supreme Court Habeas Highlights: Plea Bargaining Cases

By Kent Russell

This column provides “habeas hints” to prisoners who are considering or handling habeas corpus petitions as their own attorneys (“in pro per”). The focus of the column is on “AEDPA” (Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act), the federal habeas corpus law which now governs habeas corpus practice in courts throughout the United States.

Missouri v. Frye, 132 S.Ct. 1399 (2012)

Lafler v. Cooper, 132 S.Ct. 1376 (2012)

In Missouri v. Frye (Frye) and Lafler v. Cooper (Cooper), the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) held that, when a plea offer by the State is rejected due to ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC), the defendant may be entitled to a second chance at accepting the offer – even if he subsequently pleaded guilty to less favorable terms, or went to trial, was found guilty and received a longer sentence than that provided for in the original plea offer.

In Frye, the defendant was charged with a felony for a fourth offense of driving with a revoked license. The prosecutor sent Frye’s lawyer a letter offering to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor if Frye pleaded guilty within a specified time period and agreed to a 90-day sentence. However, the lawyer never informed Frye of the offer before the deadline for acceptance, and the offer expired. Then Frye, ignorant that the plea offer had lapsed, pleaded guilty without conditions and was sentenced to 3 years in prison – more than 10 times the sentence he would have received had he accepted the plea offer.

In Cooper, the defendant was charged with assault with intent to murder after he shot a woman in the buttocks. Prosecutors offered a plea deal with a recommended term of four to seven years. However, Cooper’s lawyer advised him to reject the offer because the lawyer insisted that state law did not permit an attempted murder conviction for wounds inflicted below the waist. The lawyer’s advice was 100% wrong, but Cooper relied on it and rejected the plea offer. Cooper then went to trial, was convicted and received a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 to 30 years – more than 4 times greater than the sentence he would have received had he taken the plea bargain.

Read More »

Innovative Prison Program Teaches Man and Dog

By Dianne Frazee-Walker

At Wakulla Correctional Institute in Crawfordville, North Florida, inmates and man’s best friend both get a second chance. Inmates locked up for various serious offenses are transformed by training canines that they have something in common with. Both inmates and dogs had behavior problems that removed them from society. The dogs were facing euthanization for not conforming to the rules. The inmates were facing time behind bars for breaking the law. Both inmates and dogs had a future that looked bleak.  

Susan Yelton and Cathy Sherman, members of Citizens for Humane Animal Treatment, Crawfordville, NF, are responsible for initiating an innovative dog training program at Wakulla Correctional Institute in Crawfordville, Florida. Their idea originated from a program in Texas, Paws for Prison. 

When Yelton and Sherman decided to ascertain whether a dog training program would work in North Florida, their first challenge was convincing Russell Hosford, warden for Wakulla Correctional Institution that it was a good idea to bring misbehaved mutts from the humane society to live with inmates for two months. Hosford’s initial reaction was, “You have to be kidding me; do you mean dogs will be living in the prison barracks with the inmates?”

Read More »